Spring is on the way, but what exactly is the spring equinox?

Spring is on the way, but what exactly is the spring equinox?

Spring is about to begin

Friday, March 17, 2017

Spring is fast approaching, bringing cheer to many as we can see better weather on the horizon (and haven't yet had our hopes brutally extinguished).

But when does spring actually start? Well there are various theories on this. Some think the official date is March 1; others think it's easter. Some rather cynical British wages would say it starts sometime in July.

But the official date is actually March 20. This is the date of the spring equinox, the formal gateway to the warmer period in the northern hemisphere.

But what exactly is the spring equinox? And what makes it so important?

 Well, it's all to do with how the earth makes its journey around the sun. The earth is tilted so, as it spins, different parts of it move closest to the sun.

Twice a year, during the spring equinox and autumn equinox, the equator of the earth lies directly parallel with the sun. These are the only times of the year the earth is not tilted at an angle - and the centre of the sun is shining directly towards the centre of our planet.

Both the north and south poles are then the same distance away from the sun. So, wherever you are on earth, the amount of light you get on March 20 is roughly the same. 

However, the poles themselves are the exception to this. On this day they start to receive either permanent light or permanent darkness, depending on whether it is autumn or spring there.

After the spring equinox, the sun shines directly overhead in the north of our planet. After the September equinox, it shines directly over the south of earth. 

So from the spring equinox onwards, the length of daylight we receive in the UK will continue to increase each day, until the summer solstice on June 21, according to The Mirror. Hurrah! If only it would start getting warmer and less drizzly as well...